28. a different experience.

Fred made a solo trip to Ann Arbor today. Here are two of his photos from the day.


I know what this pic, taken well before the start of the game, feels like. It’s fun, but you’re also apprehensive about the approaching afternoon. And even though you can see plenty of Buckeyes nearby, it can seem very, very lonely.

But 42 points later, I’d think things feel a little different.


I know a little bit about what it feels like to sing Carmen Ohio on the road; I’ve done it at Michigan State and at the end of two white-out nights at Penn State. But on his first trip to a game in Ann Arbor, Fred got something that I didn’t get in two trips during the 90s: a win.

Hey, Fred. We’re going to Ann Arbor in 2017. I need to take care of that thing.

25. and we’re back.

big hole

This hasn’t been an especially intimidating place recently. Nor has the team that plays there.

That’s been bad for the Big Ten. It’s been bad for Ohio State. And it’s been bad for the greatest rivalry in sports.

And my sense is that those lean days are over.

I thought the arrival of an actual head coach — as opposed to a career coordinator — would mean an immediate improvement for Michigan. But this season’s turnaround has exceeded what I expected, and there’s a different feeling about this year’s game.

For most of the last 15 years, I went into this weekend expecting Ohio State to win. The game might be tight, but the advantages in coaching and talent almost always won out in the end.

Those advantages aren’t completely erased, but they’re closer this season than they have been in years.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Ohio State’s 12-3 run since 2000. It’s been crazy fun. But we’re returning to the real fun of this game — the intensity, the uncertainty, the fact that it matters.

It’s all back. And I’m ready.

20. you can take it with you.

blurry stadium

It was the last thing I did inside Ohio Stadium when I left after Saturday’s cold, rainy loss to Michigan State.

And it was the best way for me to start Michigan week.


Those concrete garlands – they’re “strung” all around the stadium, attached to the building’s original façade – are my connection between the current, expanded version of the stadium and the one that my grandfather worked on before it opened in 1922. I’m not especially superstitious, but I always make sure I go up the correct stairway to C Deck so I can touch one of those garlands. It’s a little thing, but it makes me feel like I have the entire weight of Ohio State football history behind me as I climb up to my seats.

The renovations to the stadium were completed in the early 2000s, and they added capacity to the building in two ways: the track was removed and the field was lowered, so additional seats could be added to the base of the lower bowl, and a new façade was erected outside the old one so C Deck could be expanded up an out. I don’t recall the first time I touched one of the garlands, but once I settled on that as a tradition, I’ll even backtrack down a second flight of stairs just to make sure I touch one before the game begins.

As you may be aware, I got my first tattoo last spring, a subtle – in theme, not in the size of the piece – display of my affection for Athens. Something having to do with Ohio State football was a natural for Tattoo No. 2, but getting a Block O or something else obvious just wasn’t going to work. But while struggling with potential ideas, Mrs. Crappy made a suggestion: What about those garlands? I immediately thought they would work as a bicep band.

erin tat selfie

So about a week after my birthday, I went back to see Erin at Kyklops. Once again she totally nailed what I had in mind.

tattoo stadium

And although there won’t be another trip to Ohio Stadium during the 2015 season, I will have a little bit of the stadium with me all the way through Michigan week.

16. bailing with bullets.


  • Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Bullet posts are the last refuge of a distracted blogger.
  • I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house. I have prep work for tomorrow’s tailgate party done, and I’m enjoying the hell out of this bomber of Bison Imperial Stout, from Homestead Beer Co. in Heath, Ohio.
  • This will be a (mostly) all-Ohio beer weekend and, if I have anything to say about it, the full week that follows. That’s what back-to-back weekends of games against teams from the state up north will do.
  • There is an exception to the all-Ohio beer rule in place for tomorrow’s Michigan State tailgate party. Ethel’s brother-in-law Chris is in town and he usually brings along something delicious from Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, where he lives. That’s totally worth making an exception.
  • If you’re hungry for grilled cheese sandwiches, our tailgate party tomorrow is the place to be.
  • The other thing I’m making? The Official Queso Dip of the Big Ten Network.
  • I’m going to have to learn how to spell “neuropathy.” I already know how to spell “peripheral.”
  • As I write this post, I’m listening to a Phil Lesh and Friends show from Hershey, Pa., in 2002. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Crappy and I were there for that one — we saw Phil in Hershey several times — but that’s not really what sent me down this path. I’m suffering tinges of regret (yes, I’m sure that’s different from the neuropoahy) over not seeing Dead and Co. in Columbus last week. I know Phil’s dealing with more health problems, but I’d love to see him tour a bit more, even if it’s a last go-round. His bands were always excellent; a full show from the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh in 2001 got me nearly all the way from Pittsburgh to Columbus this afternoon.
  • I am missing Mrs. Crappy. And Mr. Charlie.
  • As of this very moment, I am four days behind in my NaBloPoMo efforts. Any bets as to whether I can catch up?